Table of Contents
Instrument for Data Collection
Method of Data Analysis
Result and Discussion
Research Question One
Research Question Two
Discussion of Findings
Conclusion/Implication of the Study
Examination malpractice a reoccurring decimal in Nigerian education system has often been blamed on peer influence and self-esteem which in one or the other play role in shaping the attitude of students. Report released by Exam Ethics Marshal International (2013) that Anambra State ranked 3rd state in the south-east zone and 13th state in Nigeria with the highest rate of examination malpractice. This necessitated this study which sought to ascertain how peer influence and self-esteem of secondary school students relate to their attitude towards examination malpractice in Anambra State. Two research questions and two hypotheses tested at 0.05 level of significance guided the study. The correlation survey design was adopted for the study. The participants were selected through simple random sampling. A total of 1300 SS2 students from the population of 8,978 SS2 students in the 174 co-educational public secondary schools in Anambra State made up the sample for the study. Three sets of questionnaires titled "Self-Esteem Scale (SES)", "Peer Influence Scale (PIS)" and "Attitude Towards Examination Malpractice Scale (ATEMS) were used for data collection. The instruments were validated by three experts and the reliability of the ATEMS and PIS were ascertained using Cronbach alpha and they yielded cronbach alpha coefficient of 0.85 and 0.76 respectively while the SES yielded 0.74 in Nigerian secondary school setting. Data were analyzed and hypotheses tested using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient. The findings showed that peer influence has negative correlation with students' attitude towards examination malpractice. Self-esteem has positive correlation with students' attitude towards examination malpractice. Based on the findings it was concluded that students’ have negative attitude towards examination malpractice based on peer influence. It was recommended among others that students should be encouraged to have positive sense of worth about themselves and also be enlightened on the strategies of avoiding and or coping with negative peer influence to shun examination malpractice.
Keywords: Peer Influence; Self-Esteem; Attitude; Examination malpractice
In the Nigerian educational system, examination has been and still remains the preferred tool for objectively assessing and evaluating what learners have acquired after a period of schooling (Olatubosun, 2012). It also helps to decide who is permitted to go to the next level of academic endeavour or whose academic endeavour has reached its apogee. Examination is essential for students’ success in today’s world, and such success is usually measured in terms of achieving a good score or grade, and evidenced by obtaining a good certificate which helps in getting admission in a reputed college or university, a good job and so on (Khawaja, cited in Khan & Khan, 2011). Moreover, students are expected to pass any form of examination they partake in based on a fixed cut-off mark that segregates achievers from potential achievers, otherwise known as low achievers. This 'rigid' expectation, thus unconsciously propels students to engage in fierce competition for them to achieve good results and good certificates. Nowadays, students find various means of achieving success in these examinations (Adegoke, 2013; Queensoap & Dogitimiye 2013) and one of such ways is by resorting to examination malpractice.
Examination malpractice refers to any irregular act exhibited by candidates, their associates or anybody charged with the conduct of examination, which is clearly a breach of the rules governing the conduct and integrity of the examination. Examination malpractice has become etched into the fabric of the Nigerian educational system, from the primary to the tertiary level, becoming one of the major problems confronting educational institutions in Nigeria (Olowodunonye, 2011). Bearing in mind the role education is supposed to play in nation building, a nation stands the risk of being under-developed in terms of accumulation of illiteracy, disease and poverty when its youths reject the honour of getting sound education and seem to opt for fraudulent and deceptive ways in making ends meet as epitomized by examination malpractice. Examination malpractice has other several negative effects on the individual, education system and the entire society (Queensoap & Dogitimi 2013).
These negative effects have manifested in so many ways in Nigeria and Anambra State in particular. These days, the situation seems to be that majority of the students in Anambra State irrespective of age, gender, family background and school environment indulge in one form of examination malpractice or the other. This could imply that they seem to lack the virtue and value of hard work in terms of study. It is no longer news that students skip lessons at will, lack effective study habits, goal setting and time management skills and consequently they violate examination rules and regulations at unprecedented rates in order to make academic ends meet. Some of them vandalize principals’ offices to mutilate results, get suspended or expelled from school, and end up as societal nuisance.
Informal discussions with some secondary school students in Anambra State by the researcher revealed that most of them have engaged in one form of examination malpractice or the other. Some of them excuse such indulgence with reasons such as poor teaching and learning environments; the need to improve grades in order to maintain or improve competiveness and the need to succeed in especially adjudged difficult examinations. Some students in the State also create the impression that examination malpractice is not really bad since majority of them indulge in it to succeed and be promoted along with other classmates. With these various reasons, it is obvious that examination malpractice is high among secondary school students in Anambra State, and as observed from the discussion by the researcher with those students, most of them will still cheat as the opportunity presents itself. Regrettably, the incidence and degree of secondary school students’ involvement in examination malpractice has become so alarming, problematic, and threatening that the well-being of Nigeria’s educational system is threatened (Judy & Nelson, 2002), despite the various measures meted out both at national and state levels to curb the ugly act.
Government both at national and state levels have meted out laws, penalties and measures in order to curb or at least reduce the trend of examination malpractice at the barest minimum. Such measures include serving of jail term, penalty option of huge fine, suspension and expulsion of the indicted students, cancellation or cessation of results. Despite these measures the incidence of examination malpractice in Nigeria which started with mere leakage of question papers in the Senior Cambridge Local Examination in 1914 (Adebile & Omoluwa, 2013) has cut across all the States in Nigeria, Anambra State inclusive and still persisted till date even taking new trends. It is no longer news in this contemporary time that students in Anambra State cheat in examinations through impersonation, possessing incriminating materials and are ready to pay any prize, cash or kind to pass examination they did not prepare for (Anyamene, Nwokolo & Anyaegbune, 2015). More worrisome is that these students spend most of their times with their peers which invariably influence their attitude, conduct and decision making. This makes it a challenge that must be urgently tackled since peers play significant role in shaping the attitude of students towards examination malpractice positively or negatively depending on the type of peers a student associates with.
Peers refer to persons of the same age, or who has the same social status with another (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, 2011), especially one belonging to the same societal group mostly based on age grade, or status and they play an increasingly influential role in the lives of youths. During this period of secondary school education, young people begin to break away from their families. They spend more time with their friends and less time with their families and as a result of their interactions socialize and develop a sense of belonging, form lifestyle and norms suitable to them. The desire to feel accepted and to fit in is one of the strongest forces paramount to adolescents’ bonding; this can lead them to do things that are risky or accept positive attitude towards and or indulge in examination malpractice, just to feel accepted among like peers (Oni, 2010). On the other hand, the desire to keep up with the peers can also inspire adolescents to achieve goals that they might never aim at on their own. Such goals can lead students to study hard, build confidence in one's ability to perform well without malpractice and also eschew such ugly act. This implies that students at this developmental stage are more susceptible to peer influence due to the shift in emotional dependence from parents to peers (Berk, 2004).
Peer influence is often used to describe instances where individuals feel indirectly swayed into changing their behaviour to match that of their peers (Eder & Nenga, 2003). It can be described as the indirect or subtle control exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behaviours to conform to their peers. The researcher observed from literature that peer pressure and peer influence were used interchangeably in various studies. In this study also, peer pressure and peer influence are used interchangeably. Okorodudu (2013) emphasized that peer influence has much impact on adolescents’ behaviour than any other factor and much more powerful than the influence of counsellors, teachers and other significant figures. This interaction with peers is a contributory factor in self esteem development of adolescents.
Self esteem refers to a person’s overall evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a personal judgment of worthiness that is expressed in the attitudes the individual holds towards himself (Kristen, 2009). Explaining further, Kristen, asserted that self esteem is a subjective experience which the individual conveys to others by verbal reports or other overt expressive behaviour. Self esteem is an important factor in students at the secondary school level and is easily affected by peer influence and/or peer acceptance (Uslu, 2013). Peer acceptance and relationships are important to adolescents’ emotional development and healthy development of self esteem (Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, n.d.) while peer rejection has been reported to affect self esteem negatively (Uslu, 2013) which could lead to poor evaluation of one's self concept.
The way students in Anambra State evaluate their self-concept could determine their attitude towards examination malpractice. It is important to note that poor self evaluation could lead one to having wrong belief that one will not be able to perform well in perceived or adjudged difficult tasks such as examinations and consequently, might lead one to develop test anxiety. Accordingly, students' belief in their inability to carry out tasks required for high performance could be closely linked to cheating in examinations (Murdock, Hale, & Webber, 2001). On the other hand, Alutu and Aluede (2006) observed that self-esteem is not a significant factor in determining students' attitude towards examination malpractice.
Attitude could be described as the predisposition or readiness to respond or act in a certain way towards an object. It could be positive or negative and expressed through cognitive, affective, or psychomotor domain. Attitude can be formed through past experiences, socialization, influences from peers and can be affected by self-esteem irrespective of background, status or gender. There was no consensus as to whether gender actually determines students’ attitude towards examination malpractice. Some researches posited that gender is not a significant factor in students’ attitude towards examination malpractice ( Okoro & Udoh, 2014). On the other hand, it was posited (Obidigbo, 2011) that gender determines students' attitude towards examination malpractice. This however, does not preclude a further local investigation into how gender can contribute to the relationship between attitude and examination malpractice, taking cognizance of self-esteem of and peer effects on adolescents in secondary schools in Anambra State.
It is worthy of note that despite several researches, government efforts and studies on causes, forms, and possible solutions to examination malpractice to curb or at least reduce examination malpractice in Nigerian and indeed Anambra State education system to the barest minimum, the ugly act still persists in secondary school level, even taking on new trends that are more sophisticated and dogged (Okorodudu, 2013) such as use of advanced mobile phones, impersonation and so on. This study is therefore, motivated by the need to ascertain how peer influence and self-esteem of secondary school students in Anambra State relate to their attitude towards examination malpractice.
This study is hinged on three theories namely: social learning theory by Albert Bandura; cognitive dissonance theory by Leon Festinger; and hierarchy of needs theory by Abraham Maslow. Bandura (1969) posited that people learn through modelling, imitation and observation. It could be explained by this theory that students learn from their peers through mere observation, imitation and modelling especially when such peers are seen as heros or heroines. In this way, a student can learn to develop positive attitude towards examination malpractice or even indulge in it through modelling after peers who cheats in examinations without being caught and worse still scores high in such examinations. Similarly, in his theory of cognitive dissonance, Leon Festinger (1956) construed that when a person comes into contact with an opposing attitude, belief or opinion, he experiences inconsistency, incompatibility or dis equilibrium. In order to restore equilibrium and a sense of consistency, he may alter his attitude to conform to the conflicting belief or attitude. In this way, students who has an already formed attitude towards examination malpractice, positively or negatively resulting from parenting style in their various homes which is their first place of socialization may on experiencing dissonance amongst peers alter their attitude positively or negatively to suit that of their peers. Finally, Abraham Maslow saw man a wanting beings whose satisfaction of one need leads to the desire to satisfy the other in order of his hierarchy of human needs. Self-esteem needs entail the need to love & be loved. According to this theory, belongingness needs are primarily social, for instance, the need for peers. The individual strives for affection and intimate relationships with others, needing to feel part of various reference groups, such as peer group (Ezeh & Okoye, 2010). In consonance with this theory, students who spend most of their time with their peers than with their family, desire to belong and be accepted by their peers (Oni, 2010). This acceptance by peers boosts their self-esteem (Uslu, 2013). On the other hand, any unwillingness to be influenced by peers carries with it the very risk of social rejection which students fear the most, and peer rejection has the capacity to lower the self-esteem of students (Uslu, 2013).
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What is the relationship between peer influence score and secondary school students’ attitude towards examination malpractice score?
2. What relationship exists between self-esteem score and secondary school students' attitude towards examination malpractice score?
The following hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance:
Ho1: there is no significant relationship between peer influence and students' attitude towards examination malpractice.
Ho2: the relationship between self-esteem and secondary school students' attitude towards examination malpractice is not significant
The correlational research design was adopted in carrying out the study. This type of design seeks to establish what relationship exists between two or more variables (Nworgu, 2015). This study adopted this method because it was interested in establishing whether there was a relationship between peer influence and secondary school students' attitude towards examination malpractice; self-esteem and secondary school students' attitude towards examination malpractice.
The population of the study comprised 8,978 senior secondary class 2 (SS2) students in 174 co-educational public secondary schools in Anambra State (Source: Planning and Research Section, Anambra State Post Primary Commission).
One thousand, three hundred (1300) Senior Secondary Class 2 students were sampled for the study. Multi-stage random sampling was used in selection of the participants for the study. In the first stage, 3 educational zones were picked at random from the 6 educational zones in Anambra State. The researcher further selected 2 local governments from each of the 3 educational zones through simple random sampling. From each local government, 4 schools were selected at random and all the male and female SS2 students in each of the schools formed the sample of the study
Instrument for Data Collection
The instrument used for data collection was three (3) sets of questionnaire. The questionnaire tagged Self-Esteem Scale (SES) is a standardized scale adopted from Hare Self Esteem Scale, re-validated by Omoluabi (1997) to suit usability in Nigeria. It is made up of 30 items to elicit information on the self-esteem of the respondents. The items were scaled on four-point scale of Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree and Strongly Disagree which are rated 4, 3, 2 and 1 respectively. The items 2, 4,6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27 and 29 were reversed for data analysis purpose. The maximum score for a participant in SES is 120 while minimum score is 30. Thus, any participant that scores 60 and above is considered to have high self esteem while a score of below 60 is considered low self esteem.
The questionnaire titled Attitude of Students Towards Examination Malpractice Scale (ATEMS) is a 10-item questionnaire constructed by the researcher and the items were derived from the literature review of the study but based on the research questions. The items were scaled on four-point scale of Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree and Strongly Disagree which are rated 4, 3, 2 and 1 respectively. The maximum score for a participant in ATEMS is 40 while minimum score is 10. A score of 20 and above is considered a positive attitude towards examination malpractice, while a score of below 20 is considered a negative attitude towards examination malpractice.
The Peer Influence Scale (PIS) is a 24-item questionnaire adapted Peer Pressure Inventory developed by Brown and Clasen (1985). The statements were in pairs and in each pair; individuals were to decide whether they were encouraged by their peers to do or not to do something. Each item was scored from -3 to +3 with the “no influence” option scored as zero. Thus: 3 = a lot, meaning a lot of influence from peers; 2 = somewhat, meaning a bit of influence; 1 = little, meaning little influence from peers, and 0 = no influence. In addition, -1 = little, meaning that friends do not encourage you to do something; -2 somewhat, -3 = a lot. Coding was as follows: -3 = 1, -2 = 2, -1 = 3, 0 = 4, +1 = 5, +2 = 6, +3 = 7. The potential range was from 0 - 168. Negative influence ranged from 0 – 56. Low influence ranged from 57 - 113, and positive influence ranged from 114-168. High scores implied positive peer influence from the positive direction or negative peer influence from the negative direction.